Waterford United welcome Dublin side Shelbourne FC to the Regional Sports Centre this Friday evening, September fifth, when the two sides meet for the final time in this season’s League of Ireland First Division.
The Blues come into the game on the back of a one nil defeat last weekend against Galway FC, but will take a lot from a superb performance. A Paddy Barrett goal was enough to see Galway take all three points. Conor Coad saw a penalty saved, and despite a fantastic display from Tommy Griffin’s young Blues side, they couldn’t find a way past Conor Gleeson in the Galway net.
Shelbourne come into the game on the back of a one nil loss against Premier Division Champions, St Patricks Athletic, in an FAI Cup replay on Monday night. Despite numerous chances, the first division side couldn’t cancel Conan Byrne’s first half goal as Pats progressed to the next round.
Shelbourne’s last league game was against Longford Town on August 29th. With both sides battling it out for the title and automatic promotion the game was set to be a cracker. Although neither side could break the deadlock the game lived up to expectations, with the draw keeping Shelbourne just three points behind the league leaders.
Having played out some tightly fought contests this season thus far, Shelbourne have the head-to-head advantage. Of the three league games played this season between the two sides Shelbourne have come out on top in two of the three contests, while the third was a three all draw in Tolka Park.
Waterford, at this stage, have nothing but pride to play for. With only five games remaining United lie sixteen points behind third-placed Galway FC. In what has been a disappointing season for the southeast club, Tommy Griffin will be hoping to give as many players as possible the chance to gain first team experience as the club attempts to rebuild.
Shels on the other hand will be on the hunt for all three points, and hoping Wexford Youths can take points from Longford on Saturday. Should results go their way, Shelbourne may just find themselves behind the Midlanders on goal difference.
Unfortunately for Waterford fans, one can only see this game going one way, and that is with an away victory. The Blues have had a very disappointing season, so far and this writer can’t see it changing now.
Tommy Griffin is in the middle of rebuilding the club with a fantastic group of young players, but as John Frost put it, “it is men against boys”.
Shelbourne have so much more to play for and there’s no doubt that they will treat this game as if it was against any Premier Division side.
Prediction: 2-0 win for the Tolka Park side.
PA Notes: Robert Henessy takes charge of Friday night’s encounter and will be assisted by Ralph Pieper and Pat Gleeson. Padraig Sutton will take up the duties of the fourth official. Kick off in the Regional Sports Centre is 7:45.